Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sage dressing down

Like ER workers and police officers, the Sage is need most during holidays, when people's adult manners collide with the childhood roles expected from family, and when the traditions of friends clash with the traditions of family. The holiday Seekers may be found here.

The first Seeker had planned to attend the extended family Thanksgiving with her beau, his daughter, and his granddaughter. The Seeker's sister insists that the Seeker and her beau only must attend, or the entire dinner will be cancelled.

The Seeker recognizes coercion wherever it rears its ugly head. Of course your beau must be with his daughter and granddaughter at Thanksgiving, as he may be the only family they have. If your sister and other relations are so inflexible as to be unable to set two more plates at the table, then you have no obligation to accommodate your sister's demands. Tell your sister you will let her know what you decide after you have decided, and wait till late Thursday morning to inform her that you will be unable to attend. One person missing from the meal should not create a crisis of such monumental proportions. Is your sister fully in charge of her faculties?

(Note to Lesser Advisor: Once someone is as old as this Seeker appears to be, a few months may consistute a long courtship.)

The next Seeker has a widowed mother with a boyfriend who comes to family celebrations. The family has "politely" stopped discussing anything about the late father, which upsets the Seeker.

The Sage is confused. Did your mother insist that your father should not be discussed in front of her gentleman friend? Did he demand that such discussions cease? Does he believe that your and your sibling were the result of immaculate conception? The Sage hates to disappoint you, but this man surely knows that his girlfriend once had another man in  her life and that she shared many happy memories with him. In fact, he probably wonders if your father was frequently absent or even abusive, that none of those memories seem to resurfacce during his visits with you.

The third Seeker has been living with a man for a year, hoping for marriage. Her parents were not invited to his family Thanksgiving. The Seeker asked if they would have been invited, were she and he married.

The Sage will point out that you have asked the wrong question. You are so focused on marriage that you have failed to consider etiquette. A better question would have been whether your parents might be invited this year. This may or may not have been followed with the questionas to whether marriage is in the offing for the coming year. If the answer is not an unqualified yes, perhaps your holiday would be better spent dining  with your parents and moving your belongings from his home.

The final Seeker for this holiday has many family assembling at her home, half of whom are smokers. One smoker, being of advanced age, has been granted special permission to smoke inside the Seeker's home, making the others insist that they, too, must be permitted to do so.

The Sage sees no dilemma here. This is your home, in which you make the ground rules. Whether you permit your grandmother to smoke in your home is entirely up to you and completely unrelated to whether your other relatives are permitted to do so. Inform your other relatives that when they become nonagenarians, they, too may be granted special dispensation. This is provided, of course, that your are still able to be around smoke when you have aged that much, yourself.

The Sage regrets the recent gap in weekly allocations of sage wisdom. However, between technical difficulties and the low quality of Seekers' dilemmas, this was of necessity.

1 comment:

  1. "A better question would have been whether your parents might be invited this year."

    Thank you thank you thank you. No one in the comments has mentioned that option, and it's just blindingly obvious to me. It's not like Thanksgiving usually has engraved invitations. She mentions to BF, he mentions to cousins, they say "sure" or "we'd rather not," and it gets passed back.

    At the moment, all we know is that the hosts did not think to invite their cousin's girlfriend's parents--hardly a referendum on the relationship.